When is it "time to go?" Tough question, but certainly worth considering for those of us past 90. It's not a "one-size-fits-all" situation, but this is As I See It. It seems as good a time as ever to openly examine my thoughts on life and death as an incentive for others, who may have avoided this crucial subject to examine theirs.
All lives have their ups and downs; mine have been mostly ups. It's obvious that my up-days now are not as up nor as frequent as they once were. The progressive pains of body and mind might soon exceed the future joys of witnessing an Oregon State University winning season and a sound trouncing of Donald Trump. How does one deal with this?
In my case, I continue — albeit at a greatly diminished — to maintain my home of 42 years, pay taxes, support the local economy and "rock the boat" whenever it appears called for. The daily tasks of maintaining the house and yard have become more onerous, but I'm reluctant to seek help for fear of losing some semblance of independence.
Clearly that's a lost cause, as I'm viewed by others — realistically — as a person with age impairment. Kind folks may help me one with my jacket or go out of their way to hold open a door for me, although I may prefer to accept those challenges. It's truly difficult to remain civil when my dignity is abraded by condescending individuals addressing me as: "dearie," "sweetie," or "hon."
My independence would really take a hit were I to lose the privilege of driving. There's seldom a day that my car remains in the garage, for it enables me to accomplish the many tasks of daily living. The options — the Corvallis Transit System, Dial-A-Bus, etc. — would steal hours from the available time already shortened by the slowdown of age.
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Further decline of mind and body is certain and must be addressed. It follows that alternative living accommodations need consideration. None appeals to me. Abandoning these surroundings that evoke great memories is inconceivable for me, so I'd rather stay where I am despite the limits imposed.
Rejection of a move into a senior living facility leaves the fallback solution of a live-in caregiver. Perish the thought! After living alone for 16 years and "doing it my way," sharing space with a caregiver is not realistic for me. My reluctance to compromise in so many ways suggests that relying on in-home hospice care, as necessary, might be the best alternative for this nonagenarian.
When the precarious balance of pain and joy swings to favor great pain, it will be my "time to go." The Oregon Death With Dignity law, devoid of its six-months-to-live stipulation, should be made applicable to persons over 90. A planned exit, thus permitted, could allow for setting a firm deadline to wrap up all loose ends.
Thus, having revealed intent and the exit date, family and friends might be encouraged to identify those keepsakes they admired and desired but had been reluctant to mention earlier. Most appealing to me would be a pre-exit Celebration of Life that permitted me to be a celebrant. I expect there are other nonagenarians having similar thoughts.